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Winners and Losers of the Trade Deadline

Who won deadline week in the NHL?

Last week was a very busy one in the NHL and now that the trade deadline has passed, the push to the postseason really is upon us. Some teams traded stars for a better future, while others went all in on trying to win now. Some fanbases were ecstatic with how the week went, while others were left to wonder what their general managers were thinking. In other words, it was just what we expected from another NHL trade deadline. Now, it’s time to watch how these deals unfold. Of course, it’s too early to say anything definitive, but today, we’re going over who we think won (and lost) deadline day. 

The Winners

Vegas Golden Knights

Is anyone surprised to see the Golden Knights here? Vegas’ aggressive approach has dominated deadline week since they came into the league and 2024 was no different. After picking up Anthony Mantha, the Knights grabbed arguably the best defenceman on the market in Noah Hanifin from Calgary. Many thought they were done there, but at the last minute on Friday, Kelly McCrimmon got a deal done for San Jose’s Tomas Hertl as well. While Mantha can provide some depth scoring and skill on a lesser line, Hanifin and Hertl should play big minutes for this team. Hertl’s career high in points is 74, and when he’s healthy, I expect to see him producing in the top six for Vegas.

So, how did they pull this off again? Well, it looks like the Knights are once again taking advantage of the league’s LTIR system to bring in these star players, but it’s hard to blame them for doing so. Mark Stone has once again been put on the long-term injury reserve, and if he comes back for playoffs, it will look a little suspicious. However, Vegas is doing nothing illegal, and for fans of the Golden Knights, seeing your team continue to make deadline moves to stay at the top of the league has to be awesome. Love it or hate it, Vegas is once again a top contender in the West after the trade deadline. 

Carolina Hurricanes

The Canes have been contenders in the Eastern Conference for a while, but they haven’t been back to the Stanley Cup Finals since winning it in 2006. In this era of Hurricane hockey, the organization has been reluctant to pick up high-end rentals at the trade deadline. That may not be the biggest reason for their lack of success in the playoffs, but it’s probably been a factor. This year, however, Carolina went and got the biggest name on the board in Jake Guentzel. Guentzel is a Stanley Cup champ, a two-time 40 goal scorer, and a guy with 58 points in 58 playoff games. If anyone was going to help Carolina over the hump this season, it’s him. 

Not only did they grab Guentzel for their postseason run, but the Canes also picked up Evgeny Kuznetsov in a low-risk deal. Kuznetsov’s time in Washington had evidently come to an end in recent weeks, but if Carolina can get this guy going again, he could play a large role for the team as well. Overall, this trade deadline was a big win for the Canes. They’ve had a great team there for a while now, but with contracts ending at the end of the season, this was definitely the right time to push some chips in the middle.

The Losers

Sidney Crosby

Poor Sid. All he’s done this season is continue to dominate the NHL at an incredible level, but with Pittsburgh’s current spot in the standings and moves at the trade deadline, it looks like they’ll be missing the playoffs once again. Last year was the first time since his rookie year that the Pens missed the postseason. Now, they’re shipping guys like Guentzel out and most likely missing the playoffs again. Kyle Dubas will never say that he’s throwing in the towel on this season, but a move like this suggests as much. 

It certainly would be a surprise to see Crosby end his career anywhere other than Pittsburgh, but the future does look bleak for the team, and Sid is clearly still playing at a very high level. With next season being the last one on his 12-year deal, could we possibly see Crosby join a new team within the next 18 months to once again contend for a Cup? That, of course, is hard to say. What isn’t hard to say, though, is that the Penguins franchise is headed in the wrong direction, and I’m not sure if the ship will be righted while Sid is still on the team. 

Boston Bruins

Finally, we’ve got the Boston Bruins. It was a very quiet trade deadline for the Bs, and although they’re still one of the best teams in the league, most fans would have loved to see a little more action from their team last week. There were rumours surrounding multiple players at different times leading up to Friday, but after the dust settled, only Pat Maroon and Andrew Peeke had been added to the team while Jake DeBrusk and Linus Ullmark stayed put in Boston.

It’s certainly NOT a bad thing to have two very good goaltenders on your roster and the Bruins have Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, who make arguably the best tandem in the league. However, with this season possibly being Ullmark’s last for the Bruins, the team did have an opportunity to ship him out for a player they may have needed more. If the Bs win the Cup this year, no one will remember the rumours that surrounded Ullmark leading up to the deadline. However, if the team loses with Ullmark on the bench for most or all of the games, the decision to keep him will be a tough one to look back on. It’s this inactivity that makes Boston our second loser of the trade deadline.

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